By Zafar Irshad
July 10, 2011. I was on duty as a chief reporter of a news agency in Kanpur. Being Sunday I was having a leisure time. Suddenly at around 1 pm my editor from Delhi rang me saying that there was a major train mishap at Malwa near Fatehpur. Get ready to go there, he asked me. I was shocked. I telephoned my sources in the railways and they confirmed the news of a major accident. I left immediately to the place. I reached the accident place after traveling for an hour. The mishap location was at 10-12 km from Malwa and to reach there I have to traverse about 4 km through fields to reach the spot situated at an isolated location. There was no human settlement nearby.
After reaching the spot I got to work without wasting time and started my reporting job to intimate my editor and Desk in Delhi about the mishap. Bodies were taken out from the bogies and injured persons were taken to hospitals. It was a terrifying scene. A child had lost parents, or somebody lost her husband and brother, somebody was weeping while some others unable to bear the pains were crying. Bodies were taken out from the bogies and placed in a nearby field. Then I saw some men in Khaki covering the bodies with a while cloth because they were badly deformed and disfigured. Later these bodies would be sent to hospital for post-mortem.
Now I shifted to a place where the relatives of those killed in the mishap were seated hungry and thirsty weeping at their misfortune and praying for the peace of those dear ones who had left them. Then I saw some people serving them tea, water and biscuits. Besides me there were some two dozen other journalists who had come there to cover the incident. A person came to me with tea in a plastic glass and two biscuits. The tea was no less than a five-star hotel tea for me and other journalists working in that isolated place for about four hours.
One senior person clad in kurta and pyjama was giving instructions to all the men and women to speed up their work. I went to him to ask his name but he just smiled and said nothing. I introduced myself as Jafar, journalist and asked him about his introduction as to which organization or institution he belonged to. I told him that I would write news report about the service they are rendering to these accident victims. As soon as he heard the word news, he went away from me and started serving tea and water to the victims without asking for his name, religion or caste.
I too got busy in counting the bodies and talking to officers engaged in relief operations and sending the reports to my office. It was around midnight and the work to extricate bodies from the train was still going on. Suddenly, the same person whom I met in the afternoon came to me and handed over a polythene bag to me. “What is there in this bag”, I asked. “Nothing, just four rotis and subzi”, he replied. “You have been busy reporting since afternoon and must have been hungry”. And hungry was I indeed! But I said to him that I would eat on condition that he reveals his name and the organization he worked for. He sought promise from me that I would not publish any news about him or his work to which I agreed. Then he said they were the swayamsevaks of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and with mutual coordination and cooperation making arrangements for food and water for the victims of the train mishap.
Saying these words, that honest servant of Khuda went away without sharing his name or revealing his identity with this promise in mind that I would not publish this news.
I remained at the accident spot for about 36 hours and seen these people serving the passengers of the mishap, journalists, and officers posted on duty there. And when I scanned through all the newspapers, I did not come across any news revealing the names of these people who selflessly served the victims.
(The author is a senior journalist with a career of over two decades)